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Toronto Café Tour: El Almacen Yerba Mate Cafe

August 10, 2011

So I’m back today with another Toronto café review, picking up my summer series from where I left it before I left for Berlin. Today’s café is a little place I’ve been meaning to check out all summer: El Almacen, a yerba mate cafe on Queen West. Thankfully, my experience exceeded my expectations! Here’s my quick rundown…

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Maté: I’ve usually been getting soy lattes at the cafés I’ve been visiting, but for El Almacen I needed to break with tradition and try out their specialty: yerba mate in the gourd! For those that don’t know, mate is a South American tea drink that (I think) tastes great and is also super high in caffeine (but in a good way—no tummyaches!). I’ve had bottled mate and mate lattes before, but this was my first time having it in the gourd, which is its traditional preparation. One of the barristas at El Almacen was kind enough to show me the ropes, showing me how high to fill the gourd and pour the water in through the walls, and how (not) to use the straw. It was a really easy process in the end, and it came out delicious! This little gourd runs for $3.75, but I easily got five gourds-ful of mate from this, and probably could’ve had more if I didn’t have to split. So, yeah: awesome.

Wifi: Yes ma’am!

Atmosphere: Really good. Lots of comfortable chairs and decent working tables, yet not cramped. The music was perhaps a little too hip-hop-y and distracting for my tastes the day I went, but really wasn’t all that bad. I would definitely come back here to work.

Food: They have a small selection of empanadas and the like on their menu, none of which (I assumed) were vegan, although they did have a vegan soup on offer the day I was there.

Final Verdict: I really loved El Almacen: the mate is superb, and the atmosphere is just about exactly what I look for in a café. So good job, El Almacen! I will be back. You should check them out too!

Until we eat again,

Willie

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